NEW CASTLE —
If you are attempting to eat healthier, you may be suffering from taste bud confusion.
In our culture, we can be inundated artificial flavors and added salts and fats that are poured into packaged and fast foods. When you are committed to the experience of the salty crunch, or the sponginess of the cake, or the cookie that melts in your mouth, fresh, unprocessed foods can cause full-mouth revolt.
That is part of the problem isn’t it?
Natural, unaltered foods deliver a different kind of conversation to the tongue. Whole, fresh foods whisper instead of scream. We’ve been conditioned to expect that flavors should blast our palette. Whole foods are more subtle.
If your doctor has suggested to you that you change your diet, or you are considering doing this by your own choice, I urge you to slowly begin to refine your tasting skills. Raw veggies with fat free dip can become the new crunchy. Not the same salty, greasy crunch you may be used to if potato chips are a favorite snack, but if you make this a habit, you will learn to appreciate the natural goodness that fresh veggies deliver in taste.
Sugar snap peas and raw carrot sticks are sweet. Red and yellow peppers are also offer a delicious sweetness that is unique. The coolness of the cucumber and the zesty conversation that a tomato leaves on your tongue could be valued more.
The suggestion of enjoying these flavors may be more in tune with seasonal expectations. In this area of the country, farm fresh produce is ample in the summer. This is when we expect the flavors of fresh tomatoes, corn on the cob, cucumbers, peppers. Many people look forward to this.
Fresh produce is usually more expensive in winter months because it is not locally grown. The same with fresh fruits — we eat it abundantly in season. Both of these categories are available in the can or frozen varieties, making them more affordable.
Often, if you are buying frozen peppers or onions, they also offer convenience because they are already chopped, sliced or diced. You may also want to begin to experiment with herbs and spices which bring out the natural flavors of foods.
Beverages also can become a challenge when making dietary changes. Many people tell me that, for them, water has no taste. Sodas and other sugary beverages add calories to your daily menu by blasting you with all that flavor. Even diet drinks are designed to woo your tongue.
However, think about changing your mindset if your habit is to grab this kind of sugary drink with every meal. It may seem far-fetched, but can you consider making water more of a beverage? Here’s how.
If you have a Britta filtered pitcher, you can have cold, pure water sitting in your fridge where it is more likely to be chosen as a beverage. Adding a slice of lemon or lime to your glass of water can add natural flavor. Be patient. You will adapt in just a few days to the lighter, fresher flavors
The recipe that I included for this week is one of my favorites from a cookbook that has been compiled by an Ornish participant. Fran Snyder has found ways to keep some of those tastes and textures that you love and still make health choices.
The Cornbread Casserole brings in great flavor combinations, but without the fat.
- 1 whole fat free cornbread, pre-baked
- 1 14 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz. can whole corn, drained
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 2 cups shredded fat free cheddar cheese
- 1 8 oz. bottle fat free ranch dressing
Cut baked and cooled cornbread into small cubes and lay on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees for approx. 15 minutes, until browned and crusty. When cooled, place in the bottom of a glass serving dish.
Layer: beans, corn, peppers, onions, tomatoes and cheese over the cubes. Top with the whole bottle of fat-free ranch dressing. Cover and chill 2 hours.